PETALING JAYA: Former world champion Cheah Liek Hou fell short in his bid to secure a second double victory in as many weeks at the China Para-badminton International in Hangzhou.
The 31-year-old Liek Hou went down 21-23,21-11,19-21 to arch-rival Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia in the SU5 singles (impairment in upper body) but made amends when he teamed up with Mohd Faris Ahmad Azri to whip Suryo-Freddy Setiawan 21-12,21-15 for the doubles title yesterday.
At the Thailand Para-badminton International last week, Liek Hou swept both the SU5 singles and doubles titles in the absence of world No. 2 Suryo.
“It was so close. I paid the price for being impatient during crucial stages, ” said the world No. 3.
“Although I did bounce back to win the doubles, I’m still not satisfied because I missed out on the chance to close the gap on Suryo in the world ranking.
“Improving on my ranking is a priority because I want to get a good seeding at the Tokyo Paralympics.”
Liek Hou said losing to Suryo for the first time in two years has given him more headache as he has already been surpassed by another Indonesian Dheva Anrismusthi.
“I defeated Suryo in straight games the last time we met in the final of the Asean Para Games two years ago, ” said Liek Hou, who has 11 world titles including six singles crowns to his name.
“I can see that he has improved a lot. He’s only 24 and can only get better.
“So now, besides Dheva, Suryo will be another tough nut to crack. They are my two biggest rivals at the moment.”
Liek Hou will be looking to draw inspiration from 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze medallist Rashid Sidek as he gears up for the Paralympics.
Liek Hou has been training under Rashid and his Indonesian assistant Nova Armada at the Sports Affairs badminton club since July.
“We have our own programme at the National Sports Council but I also opted to train at Sports Affairs for better sparring quality.”
Didin Taresoh was the other Malaysian in action in Hangzhou.
However, his challenge in the SS6 (short stature) singles ended in the quarter-finals after he was beaten 12-21,19-21 by Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Yim.
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